Beat Your Malaise With These Video Car Reviews From The Cusp of the Malaise Era
Tire-squealing, land-yacht-drifting, V-8-roaring goodness from Bud Lindemann and Car & Track.
Gordon "Bud" Lindemann was a Chicago-area racing commentator who hosted what may have been the country's first nationally broadcast car show, Car & Track. From the late 1960s until the mid-70s, C&T focused primarily on motorsports but also did video car reviews—on the track, of course, just like Top Gear. Many of these have made it to YouTube, and they are effing brilliant. There's no soft-shoeing here: After a few preliminaries, every review descends into a visual orgy of tire-squealing, oversteering, land-yacht-drifting hedonism. Eat your heart out, Jeremy Clarkson.
Let's start with Bud's review of a 1969 Chevrolet Impala with a 396 2bbl (for those of you born after 1985, that's a 6.5L V-8 with a two-barrel carburetor), which is a great introduction to Car & Track's wit. We revere the 396 today, but Bud says it "couldn't punch its way through a wet Kleenex." Of the instrumentation and the acceleration, he says "There's a light to tell you just about anything you want to know. There should have been a light to tell us we were moving." The film just gets better and better—the car swaps ends in hard braking and plows through a corner with so much tire tuck-under that the trim ring just about scrapes the pavement.
1969 Dodge Charger 500 HEMI
So how does Bud react to a muscle car? Check out his review of the 1969 Dodge Charger 500, a NASCAR homologation special with a flush grille and backlight. These cars are worth a fortune today, so it's cool to see one driven the way Chrysler engineers intended. This particular Charger has the 426 HEMI ("One of the quickest ways I know of to do your thing," says Bud), and the 0-60 runs featured "more wheel-spin than a Las Vegas Roulette table." This film takes a while to get into the action, but oh, what action it is—including the Charger taking a corner at 70 MPH in slow motion. "You can put your rear end anywhere you want it," says Bud. I'd like to put my rear end into that Charger 500!
1974 Ford Pinto vs. Chevrolet Vega
Bud's show stretched into the Malaise Era, but that didn't stop the C&T crew from doing their thing—they kept right on burning rubber. This next film compares two of the era's saddest cars, the 1974 Ford Pinto Runabout and the 1974 Chevrolet Vega Kammback, and if you think that's a recipe for boredom, then you didn't watch the videos above. Despite glacial acceleration (0-60 in the 16 second range), not only do Bud's buds run them 10/10ths through the handling course, they do a reverse 180 in each—including slo-mo for the Pinto. You will never look at these crapmobiles the same way again.
1968 Jaguar XKE
Lest you think Car & Track only tested domestic iron, here's Bud's take on the "slinky, silky cat known as the XKE." You can tell these guys were as excited about this bit of British metal as we are when a McLaren or a Ferrari shows up at Automobile. They show the Jag no mercy, though we're sure the cats back in England must have winced a little at the Americanisms: Bud says the car delivers "the wallop of a Missouri mule and snob appeal that far exceeds its price tag." Of the interior: "Hey, that instrument panel is the greatest thing since Bromo discovered seltzer. It has everything but an altimeter."
1975 Buick LeSabre
One of my personal favorites is this test of a 1975 Buick LeSabre with a 455 V8—not least of all because my grandfather had a baby-blue '76. To me, this video encompasses is everything that makes these Car & Track road tests great: Even though most Americans were still reeling from the gas lines of '74, there's the C&T crew sliding through turns in a 5,000-lb behemoth, front tires practically peeling off the rims and so much body lean that the rocker panels are in danger of getting road rash. I have a full-size '69 Dodge sedan that I usually drive like an old lady (when I drive it at all), but this makes me want to run it through the slalom at 60—what could go wrong?
And there's more… lots and lots and lots more
If none of the above float your boat, I'm sure Bud's reviewed something that you'll like. You can watch his crew hammer a supercharged Avanti II, J-turn a boat-tail Riviera, hoon the Colonnade-style Buick and Olds, and test a bunch of Mustangs up to and including the Shelby KR500. He jumps on a Javelin, manhandles a Matador, canes a Cricket, owns an Opel, gooses a Gremlin, cavorts with a Camaro, dances with a Dasher, abuses an AMX, tortures a Torino, and compares a Cougar to a Cutlass. Just search YouTube for "Bud Lindemann" and "Bud Lindeman" (some fans can't spell) and immerse yourself in tire-howling, four-wheel-drifting bliss.